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manifested a disposition to live on terms of amity and friendship with the United States; but discovered no inclination to enter into a commercial treaty with them, that they complained of the neglect of the American government to execute the stipulations of the treaty of peace, for which neglect they justified their retention of the Western Posts.
In this situation the French revolution found Great Britain and the United States. At the commencem.ent of the war between France and England, various circumstances indicated the probability that America would be brought into the contention against Britain.
The warm and animated expressions of fraternity made by the American people towards France ; the festivals in celebration of French victories, and the manifest partiality which many discovered for her in the management of the war, probably led the British Cabinet to think that the United States were disposed to become parties in the war, and induced them to adopt measures to meet this hostile spirit. On the other hand, the unfriendly indications of the English Court, and the impressments of American seamen in the British ports, in addition to the common vexation of neutrals on the high seas, and the attenipt to starve France by carrying American provision vessels into English ports, was so much fuel to feed the passions of the Americans a'ready in a blaze.
In this state of national affairs, the President met Congress on the 4th of December, 1793. In the speech delivered on this interesting occasion, he thus noticed his re-election to the Presidency.
“ Since the commencement of the term for which I have been again called into office, no fit occasion has arisen for expressing to my fellow citizens at large the deep and respectful sense which I feel of the renewed testimony of publick approbation. While on the ono hand, it awakened my gratitude, for all those instances of affectionate partiality with which I have been
honoured by my country ; on the other, it could not prevent an earnest wish for that retirement, from which no private consideration should ever have torn me. But influenced by the belief that my conduct would be estimated according to its real motives, and that the people, and the authorities derived from them, would support exertions, having nothing personal for their object, I have obeyed the suffrage which com. manded me to resume the executive power; and I humbly implore that Being on whose will the fate of nations depends, to crown with success our mutual endeavours for the general happiness.”
He then made the following communications respecting the measures of the Administration.
" As soon as the war in Europe had embraced those powers with whom the United States have the most extensive relations, there was reason to apprehend that our intercourse with them might be interrupted, and our disposition for peace drawn in question by suspicions too often entertained by helligerent nations. It seemed therefore to be my duty to admonish our citizens of the consequence of a contraband trade, and of hostile acts to any of the parties; and to obtain by a declaration of the existing state of things an easier admission of our rights to the immunities belonging to our situation. Under these impressions the Proclamation was issued.
“ In this posture of affairs, both new and delicato, I resolved to adopt general rules, which should conform to the treaties, and assert the privileges of the United States. These were reduced into a system, which shall be communicated to you."
After noticing those legislative provisions which his experience dictated as necessary, he proceeded :
“ I cannot recommend to your notice, measures for the fulfilment of our duties to the rest of the world, without again pressing upon you the necessity of placing yourselves in a situation of complete defence, and
of exacting from them, the fulfilment of their duties towards us. The United States ought not to indulge a persuasion that, contrary to the order of human events, they will for ever keep at a distance those pain. ful appeals to arms, with which the history of every other nation abounds. There is a rank due to the United States among nations, which will be with held, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most pow. erful instruments of our prosperity, it must be known that we are, at all times, ready for war.".
After advising the greatest appropriations for the redemption of the publick debt, which the resources of the country would permit, he in the following manner concluded the address.
“ The several subjects to which I have now referred open a wide range to your deliberations, and involve some of the choicest interests of our common country. Permit me to bring to your remembrance the magnitude of your task. Without an unprejudiced coolness, the welfare of the government may be hazarded ; without harmony, as far as consists with freedom of sentiment, its dignity may be lost. But as the legis. lative proceedings of the United States will never, 1 trust, be reproached for the want of temper, or of candour, so shall not the publick happiness languish from the want of my strenuous and warmest co-operations."
The party in the United States, opposed to the general system on which the Federal Government had been administered, by associating the cause of France with their own, had increased their members in the present Congress; but they were not prepared to attack either the discernment or the patriotism of the President. The House of Representatives, in their answer, thus noticed the unanimous suffrage, by which General WASHINGTON had, a second time, been elected to the Presidency.
It was with equal sincerity and promptitude they ombraced the occasion for expressing to him their cod. gratulations on so distinguished a testimony of publick approbation, and their entire confidence in the purity and patriotism of the motives which had produced this obedience to the voice of his country. It is to virtues that have commanded long and universal reverence, and services from which have flowed great and lasting benefits, that the tribute of praise may be paid without the reproach of flattery; and it is from the same sources that the fairest anticipations may be derived in favour of publick happiness.” The proclamation of neutrality was in a cautious manner approved, and a disposition was expressed to support the Executive.
The answer of the Senate breathed unreserved af fection and confidence. Referring to the second election of the President, they observed, “ In the unanimity which a second time marks this important national act, we trace with particular satisfaction, besides the distinguished tribute paid to the virtues and abilities, which it recognises, another proof of that just discernment, and constancy of sentiments and views, which have hitherto characterized the citizens of the United States.” They declared the Proclamation to be “a measure well timed and wise, marifesting a watchful solicitude for the welfare of the nation, and calculated to promote it.”
At the close of this year, Mr. Jefferson resigned his Socretaryship, and was succeeded by Mr. E. Ran. dolph ; and Mr. William Bradford was appointed At torney General.
After a very animated debate, January, 1794, a bill passed Congress by a very small majority, to build six frigates, and it received the cordial assent of the Exe. cutive. This was the commencement of the Ameri can navy.
In November 1793 the British government had given instructions to her ships to detain all vessels laderi with goods, the produce of any colony belonging to France, or carrying provisions, or other supplies to those colonies, and bring them into English ports for adjudication.
These instructions were thought, by reflecting men in America, to be proof of a hostile spirit in the British Cabinet towards the United States, and Congress deemed it expedient to be prepared to meet the probable event of war. They accordingly laid an embargo for the term of thirty days, and with great unanimity adopted provisional measures of self defence.
While these measures were in train, the President on the 4th of April, 1794, transmitted to Congress a letter from Mr. Pinckney, who had been appointed Minister at the Court of London, which contained in. formation, that the orders of November were revoked, and instructions given to cruizers to bring in for adjudications only those neutral vessels which were laden with the produce of French Islands on a direct voyage from those islands to Europe ; and gave the substanco of a conversation between Lord Grenville and Mr. Pinckney in which his Lordship more satisfactorily explained the instructions of November; and manifested a disposition to cultivate peace and amity with the United States.
This communication made a deep impression on the Federal members of Congress. They thought that a door was opened for negotiation, and that war might probably be avoided.
The opposition members and the partisans of France, alarmed by these symptoms of moderation, redoubled their attack upon England, and upon all, who were disposed to cultivate friendship with her. Newspapers were filled with invectives of this nature, and every epithet of vileness and calumny was made use of to inflame the publick mind, and increase the hostility of the nation against Great Britain. The majority of Congress discovered a disposition to proceed in their